Deliveries across Europe are slow – many container vessels have piled up and staffing in shipping companies is scarce. That is why it is good to place orders for Christmas as early as possible, experts advise, quoted by “Deutsche Welle“.
Henry Honcoop points to the screen in his office: countless ships have jammed the port of Rotterdam waiting to be unloaded. “The waiting time in the port varies from 24 to 163 hours at peak times,” he said, adding: “And the demand for ships and transport is not decreasing, on the contrary – it is increasing.”
Honkoop has been taking over containers from large ships for a quarter of a century. It then rents river vessels and distributes the goods throughout Europe. But business is currently extremely sluggish due to the long wait in ports. With long-term consequences: “This makes supplies more expensive. And the customer will have to wait much longer for the spare part of his mower,” explains Henry Honkoop.
Because of the pandemic and because of “Ever Given”
Cavus Hederzade agrees. It organizes water and land transport from Frankfurt between seaports and the rest of Europe. “Rotterdam is not an isolated case,” he says – many container ports are simply unable to handle the flow of ships.
During the first Kovid wave in 2020, companies in the industry severely limited the number of their ships despite the decline in production in China.
“And when things started again, there was not enough capacity,” Hederzade said. The accumulation of delayed containers now leads to the fact that “our vehicles are not handled properly and on time”.
The Ever Given container ship ran aground in March in the Suez Canal still affects business – due to the disruption of global supply chains. And the small domestic contractor is at a disadvantage in important ports like Rotterdam: “Ships are getting bigger and carrying more and more containers. And it just takes more time,” he said. “From there, we as the last in the chain also have to wait a little longer.” The professions of ship captain, port employee or truck driver simply need to become more attractive.
The situation will not clear up soon
For Livia Spera, Secretary General of the Federation of European Transport Workers, this is extremely important. The profession is simply no longer as attractive as it was 20 years ago: “More and more giant container vessels are being used, which now carry 25,000 containers instead of 10,000. This leads to congestion in the interior of the country by road, water and rail. Added to this is the shortage of truck drivers across Europe. “
The work is hard and involves a lot of waiting. Many people prefer to do something that allows them to sleep in their own bed without being dumped, because large companies often use subcontractors to artificially keep prices low.
Will there be a problem with Christmas presents?
All three – Spera, Honkoop and Hederzade, do not expect a quick relief. The delays are likely to continue in the first quarter of 2022.
With a view to Christmas shopping, Hedersade makes a clear recommendation: “This time orders should be placed much earlier than usual.” Otherwise, there can be a serious problem with the gifts under the Christmas tree.